What can I plant under tall hemlock that's part shade and dry?
We are relatively new to the house where previous owners were not big gardeners at all! We have a tall hemlock in our backyard (not sure what kind it is, I am a total newbie!) as you see in the picture and have some mulch bed underneath that I am hoping to plant something in. This picture is taken facing North, and was taken around 1pm. Depending on the time of the day, this area gets some direct sun but otherwise shade. Also in the summer it is a little more shade because of the angle where sun is coming from, etc. Also because of hemlock, this area is dry from its roots sucking everything up I assume and, even when it rains, I can see the ground not very wet. To add on top of that, we got some deer in the neighborhood, so deer resistant plants would be ideal. We are putting in some fence this year, but nothing too tall, so I still expect their visits.
What are my options here - do I have any? I assume my best bets are some shade perennials that are dry resistant? Would I be able to do any small shrubs? No? Would it help if I try trim the lower branches of hemlock to allow more lights into the area, etc?
Some people have mentioned: Solomons Seal, Hellebore , Osmanthus 'Goshiki' (I realize this is a shrub), brunnera 'jack frost', bleeding heart, etc. Would these be good choices?
Thank you for your advice in advance!